Mental Health Provision Is ‘Matter Of Urgency’

The Chairman of the Council’s Health Overview Committee, Dudley Mumford, says he will be talking to colleagues and Council staff as a matter of urgency about ‘place of safety’ provision.

That’s a locally designated address where the police may remove someone having a mental health episode that may be considered to put them at risk.

There’s meant to be a place of safety here, but agencies haven’t been able to agree on where it should be. On the mainland it is often a hospital or, as a last resort, a police station. But it can also be assigned on a temporary basis to include a person’s home.

Councillor Mumford says he recalls the issue being discussed at a Health Committee meeting a few years ago.

In September 2007, William Thomas informed Councillors of the need to provide the emergency facility. Members heard concerns over how they’d look if an anxious or potentially violent patient could not be sent to the mainland for specialist help, because travel was disrupted by weather.

A meeting was called between the Primary Care Trust and Dr Jeffries but the various parties couldn’t agree on a way forward.

The issue is being discussed again after two visitors who became distressed were accompanied to the mainland on the helicopter on two separate occasions last week.

Dudley says the present situation has highlighted deficiencies, which need to be addressed particularly in the short term in case a similar situation arises in the busy tourist season.

Last week Joan Shiles of St Mary’s Hall Hotel said she felt that the hospital had not given her the support she would have expected when one of her guests became unwell. But Sandra Miles, Mental Health Commissioner for the Primary Care Trust has now responded.

Sandra says islanders should be reassured that there are appropriately qualified and experienced clinical staff on the islands to care for them should they need help with mental health. She says the first port of call should be the hospital, which can be contacted on 01720 422392

Sandra says the Primary Care Trust is working with partners on the islands to identify a location for a designated place of safety.